Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"Outta Site" Three-Cheese Vegetable Lasagna – Cooking Up the Radio Dial (Part 4)

Dish - Three Cheese Vegetable Lasagna
Station - 93.5 FLOW FM
Music Genre - R&B, Hip-Hop

Today I came down with a mild case of the cooking blues. For those who are new to this blog, when you have the cooking blues it means your not feeling motivated to cook. My remedy for this ailment is a heavy dose of musical medicine. So I turned on the radio in my kitchen and continued on my weekly radio cooking journey. I traveled to the next stop on the radio dial which was 93.5 Flow FM. My kitchen was instantly filled with energizing R&B beats. Just what the cooking doctored ordered. Although the music gave me an instant boost I still wanted to keep the cooking to a minimum. It was a good thing that I had made a sauce for vegetable lasagna over the weekend. By the way, planning ahead is another remedy for the cooking blues (more on that in a separate post).

All I had left to do was cook the noodles, shred some mozzarella cheese and put this three-cheese meatless wonder together. The extra bonus was the size of this dish meant there would be leftovers for the next night. As for the cooking tunes, they had started off good but went downhill when I was hit with a string of songs that sounded like R&B teen-pop. Not pleasant. I wasn’t feeling the musical flow until I was assembling the lasagna. The radio station did a segment called “flowback” where they play a tune from the past. The song they choose to play was “It Takes Two” by Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock. I hadn’t heard this hip-hop tune in ages but I was rapping right along, word for word, with Rob Base. I threw in a few of my vintage ‘80s dance moves as I covered the lasagna and placed it in the oven.

Even though the cooking was done I was looking for more hip-hop music from my era. I was craving to hear a song from L.L Cool Jay, KRS1, Def Jeff or even another Rob Base song like “Joy and Pain.” Unfortunately the station played another one of those poppy R&B tunes. In the end I gave the cooking experience three song notes out of five because two hip-hop artists from the past made my time cooking feel right and my three-cheese meatless lasagna was outta site! Cheesy? Yes…but still delicious. Cook-on!

Talk of the Town Vegetable Lasagna

2 tsp olive oil
1 cup each diced onions and diced carrots
2 cups sliced crimini or white mushrooms
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1½ tsp each dried basil leaves and dried oregano leaves
1 can (28 oz / 796 ml) stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 can (156 ml) tomato paste
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
½ tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese, divided
12 uncooked lasagna noodles (about 12 oz) (see cooking tip)
2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
1 egg
2 cups (packed) shredded mozzarella cheese (8 oz / 227 g), divided

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, mushrooms, red peppers and zucchini. Cook for 7 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in garlic, basil and oregano. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, vinegar, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tbsp of Parmesan cheese.

While sauce is simmering, in a large soup pot, cook lasagna noodles as per package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water and drain again. In a medium bowl combine cottage cheese and egg. Mix well.

To assemble lasagna, spread 1 cup cooked sauce over the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Top with 4 cooked lasagna noodles. Spread 1/3 of the remaining sauce over noodles, followed by the cottage cheese mixture. Top with 4 cooked noodles followed by ½ the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp Parmesan cheese and 1cup mozzarella cheese. Layer the remaining 4 cooked noodles on top. Spread remaining sauce over noodles. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp Parmesan cheese and 1 cup mozzarella cheese.

Cover with foil and bake in a 350º F oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Let stand, uncovered, 15 minutes before serving.

Volume: Makes 10 servings

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